Saturday, 3 June 2017

The Cost of Kindness

 
Kindness - it's Free, it costs you nothing, right?
 
No...not true.  That's a lie. 
 
And I'm one of the Champions of Kindness.  It costs you - but the dividends returned on the investment are immeasurable and unknowable. 
 
Smiling is Free.  Now that is True.  But to go around grinning all day is creepy and, let's face it, not even natural-looking for some people.  A smile is beautiful only when it is sincere, and that's also true of kindness.
 
Fake smiles and fake kindness are socially encouraged, can open doors for you and win some people over, some of the time.  They can smooth a turbulent situation, adding a layer of civility and diplomacy.  I'm not completely opposed to these falsehoods if they are intended as a polite and gracious gesture.  If they are intended to manipulate, disarm or charm for your own self-serving motivations...
 
Well, that's the ugly reason many people are instantly cynical and distrusting when you smile at them.  They've been lured by that siren to the rocks before.
 
Genuine expressions of kindness, on the other hand, suffuse both the giver and receiver with the same warm, real moment.  We all need those moments, but some days, some of us need it worse than others. I definitely have days where it's pretty tough to smile or feel positive at all.  But if I witness even a tiny act of kindness by another person to a fellow human, it lightens my step.  Unfortunately, I also witness ugly, cruel and nasty acts which are far more pervasive.  Kindness really needs its Champions.

If I spend a minute or two talking to someone and end up making them smile, I walk away imagining a wave of goodwill emanating out from them to the next person they interact with...and so on. If Kindness is a contagion, I want to be a carrier.  Am I a silly Dreamer?  Yup, guilty as charged.  I'm also annoyingly idealistic for someone in their late forties and Reality should have crushed that out of me by now. 
 
Screw you Reality.
 
Today, I was racing into a department store in long, swift strides, trying to accomplish as many errands on my lunch break as I could.  There was a gentle-stepping, elderly lady approaching the set of doors just ahead of me and to my right.  I outpaced her, of course, and while passing her, she was startled, becoming slightly unsteady.  Now, I was nowhere near her - a few feet away actually - but my quick pace thrust me abruptly into her, likely limited, peripheral vision.
 
Moving toward her, I placed one hand on her back to steady her and apologized, "I'm so sorry, I startled you, didn't I?" Her expression of annoyance vanished and she looked surprised, saying, "You did," in a slightly aggrieved tone.  Then her face lit up with a beaming smile and she squeezed my arm, saying, "But you, dear, are very respectful of your elders."  I laughed and said, "Yes, ma'am."  She gave my arm another squeeze and I moved off.  When I glanced back at her, she was still smiling.
 
I didn't get all my errands done, so, yes, maybe that kindness cost me a little. I may have been able to dash and grab one or two things more things had I not spent that time with her and consciously stopped racing around so fast.
 
It also gave me one of the best, warmest, most genuine moments of my day.
 
Kindness is worth any cost and every effort, always.


Friday, 6 September 2013

Mourning Summer

Summer is gone.  She left us without a thought to our suffering.  She has forgotten us already and moved on.

She has left us shivering in the cold and reaching for our hoodies, in darkness and despair as headlights, lamps and overhead lights come on earlier and earlier, depressed as barbequing, beachcombing, and boating are far less comfortable, longing for our hammocks, flip-flops, and beach towels, aching for the smell of sunblock and bug spray---Screeeeech....

Wait a minute - no more mosquitoes, sunburns, and sand in everything - that b*%ch wasn't all great!

Summer is gone.  She has left without a trace or care.

To quote a great song, "we are all out of love".

But we are also all out of excuses. 

No more -  "I can't write, edit, polish or perfect that story...summer's too short, I have to get out there and enjoy it." 

Love affair's over baby - back to your true love, the one who's always been there for you, nurturing your talent, loving you rain or shine or four feet of snow - your writing.

I surveyed my writing desk.  It's a mess.  Dust-laden and neglected, piled with unfinished projects and jotted-down ideas - I have been an unfaithful hound.  It's time to "bring back that lovin' feeling" and re-dedicate myself to my writing. 

And as I clean away the dust and tidy the papers, grabbing a slip or a note and thinking "ohhhh, I remember this, this was a great idea!" or reading an unfinished story and thinking, "why did I ever leave you?  What was I thinking?"  The heart-pounding is back, the passion re-lit, and summer is forgotten, drowned in a flood of shame.

Writing and I are re-united, we are stronger than ever, I will never leave again...what, is that a perfumey whiff of sunblock I smell? 

No, NO! I don't care...I am strong! I am devoted to my writing!

Here's to you and the re-kindling of your own passions!

Julie Serroul

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

In the Beginning...

Welcome to my first foray into the world of blogging...wait don't close this tab! Give me a chance...I might not be totally boring.

Haha, just kidding close the tab if you want, I'm quite likely to be totally boring. 

My life is consumed by Reality and my passion is writing Speculative Fiction which is why I'm calling this blog Poking Holes in Reality.  My fiction pokes holes in reality and in order to carve out time to write that fiction, I need to find ways to poke holes in my own Reality.  My success at doing this is negligible.

I have the usual line-up of antagonists/challenges preventing our heroine from achieving her goal of writing.  A job, replete with an array of bosses and mountainous terrains of paperwork, a home, riddled with dirty laundry, hungry children and a dog, a lonely husband and, looming in every dark corner, monstrously large dust bunnies, etc.  I have examined the options:

Quit job - smile for about five minutes until the foreclosure begins...
Ignore Children - give up on my dim hopes of receiving that ever elusive Mom-of-the-Year award that someone keeps forgetting to nominate me for...
Ignore Dog - whining is incessant - become insane within an hour...
Ignore Husband - Same as previous result...
Give up Sleep - haha, that's just funny, love my sleep and when tired will fall asleep standing up...
Give up Eating - hmm finally fit into Size 3, but no, not possible, Sleeping, Eating and I are in long-term love triangle.

So that leaves - Become more organized and efficient (My snickering has become so out of control, I can barely type.)

Well, let's take an accounting of my Writing To-Do List. Currently I'm supposed to be:

Editing 2 short stories that I finished a very long time ago;
Editing a novel that I finished an even longer time ago;
Writing 2 short stories that I have started and polishing one up for "Flashpoint";
Submitting a blurb for a Q&A (for "Grey Area Indiegogo Campaign");
Submitting a new bio for a short story anthology ("Grey Area");
Getting the word out on an Indiegogo campaign for our small press ("Grey Area");
Reviewing story submissions for an upcoming anthology for our small press ("Flashpoint" by Third Person Press); and
Starting my very own blog. 

So, check off one right?

Hmm, maybe I can check off a couple more since mentioning our Indiegogo Campaign works toward that goal, and maybe I'll wrap up my blog with my Q&A followed by my current bio.  Talk about organization and efficiency!

Question:  What was your inspiration/impetus for writing "Letters to Mom"? (See Indiegogo Campaign "Grey Area")

Answer:  I was toying with the concept of unusual living arrangements and igniting them with the torch of "What if".  One of the ideas that leapt into my head was a character living with a ghost and a murderer - that was an interesting "Three's Company" concept for sure.  Then, as occasionally (and blissfully) happens to me, the character arrived in my brain fully formed as a young boy and, wow, did he live an interesting life (as in the "may you live in interesting times" ancient curse type of "interesting life").  From there the story wrote itself in only a few hours.

Bio:

Julie Serroul lives on the mystical isle of Cape Breton where anything can happen (on her computer, anyway).  She has always loved the tradition of ghostly tales told by campfire or candlelight and often finds her fiction a reflection of that.  She is currently polishing up a short story submission for an upcoming anthology by Third Person Press called "Flashpoint", editing a fantasy novel for her eager collection of first readers (numbering 3), and entering the world of blogging with her new blog called "Poking Holes in Reality".